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COVID effect: Area businesses call it quits

The Brillion News

Two area businesses announced on Tuesday, May 19, that they are closing permanently as a result of the impacts olf the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions on businesses resulting from it.

Foremost Farms USA announced that it plans to close its Chilton manufacturing facility in July 2020 and The Marc Banquet Hall and Catering, in the Town of Lawrence, just north of Wrightstown, announced that it will not reopen.

“Manufacturing footprints continually evolve and change over time as the market changes. We are always reviewing our manufacturing network and looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” said Greg Schlafer, President & CEO. “Closing the facility is difficult for us. But in looking at our operations holistically, we don’t think making long-term investments in the plant make strategic sense for our network. We have other plants with upgraded technology and optimized logistics that will drive significant cost efficiencies.”

In short: the plant is aging and obsolete, and upgrades would be too costly given alternatives available..

In addition, the company said the market has changed due to COVID-19. Work order volumes from food service clients have decreased in a short period of time creating product over capacity and a sudden production demand drop.

“We don’t see an immediate bounce back in cheese orders from food service clients serviced by the location,” said Schlafer. “This is not a reflection on our employees in Chilton. This is a business decision that has nothing to do with their performance, which has been excellent. We are committed to treating our employees with respect and dignity and will be working with them through this transition.”

The company will be working through the details of a severance package in the coming weeks. Built in the 1940s, the Chilton plant makes Italian cheeses including Provolone which is sold into the foodservice market for sandwiches.

The 53 employees who work at the location were informed of the company’s plans before the announcement was made public. The number of farms sending their milk to the Chilton plant has not been made public yet.



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